05 May, 2008

Ah, Motherland!

Huzzah to the last libatious litany! I wish to foment a similar discussion concerning a topic close to both my heart and stomach. I haven't posted for some time, but the new laptop needs to be broken in, and I feel like writing about

BEER!

Check out the discussion sparked by agave, turned quickly to a great socio-economic expose.

Considering my thoughts of late, and the onset of a beautiful summer, I turn my thoughts to the under-appreciated forefathers of Bud and Miller: The traditional German lager.

Germany has been brewing since time immemorial. It's every bit as much a part of the culture as bratwurst, a good strong kraut, and leiderhosen. With centuries of experience to refine and cultivate unique and refreshing tastes, it's no wonder that some of the best beers in the world come out of Deutschland.

Now, I know what you're thinking (or at least what those of you I haven't taught better are thinking), "Lagers? Oh man, he's going to have us drinking piss-water now!" I am suddenly reminded of a old Monty-Python joke:

Why are American beers like making love in a canoe?
They're both fucking close to water!

Rest assured, the only beers I'll be pouring down your throats will be golden and delicious, and more like having a threesome with Aphrodite and 2008's Playmate of the year on a heart-shaped bed covered with leopard skins and rose petals. Although a canoe does present an interesting challenge...

I should specify the type of lager under examination, for lager is really another broad category for the beverage. I'm talking today about the German Pilsner, specifically Warsteiner Premium Verum, for purposes of reviewing. These old-school cousins of American macro-beer possess a potency on the palate that will satisfy every time.

"But Cassidy, aren't you a hardcore Ale-head?"

Yes, but the Bohemian missionaries of brewing have long been at their work, and I am slowly realizing all that Germany has to offer.

This particular beer pours with a completely clear, golden color. Thin streams of effervescent bubbles will continue through the whole glass. The bubbly, white head that appears will dissipate rather quickly, leaving only a slight lacing rim around the glass. On the nose, it approaches pretty herbally, almost grassy, and with just a bit of maltiness. Other reviewers have found some wheat, floral, or even citrusy notes.

The beauty of a Pilsner, in my opinion, is the mask of simplicity that covers a surprising level of depth and sophistication. The hops hit the palate with an upfront but not overpowering bitterness which mellows quickly, so anti-bitter beer drinkers may have less issue with this one. There is real flavor in this beer, so expect more than you would from Miller or Bud, the smooth maltiness is low-key, but more substantial than your average bear would expect from the appearance of the beer. There is the beautiful deception--a beer at once light and flavorful.

The mouthfeel is light and bubbly, and finishes crisp, and fairly dry. Nothing left over in the mouth to make you smack your lips and say, "what is that?" Each drink is new and fresh, it's almost hard to anticipate what will happen each time you raise the glass.

Of course, the German variety is the younger cousin of the Czech style. Plzen is an old, old city, and deserves it's just rewards for developing this entirely refreshing style. Thank you People's Republic of Czechoslovakia, thank you.

Until next time friends, prost!

3 comments:

spencer said...

Although I wouldn't dare doubt the quality of your beer knowledge and opinion, I must say that I've never been a fan of the lager and I have specifically disliked the pilsner. Next time we're together you'll have to show me around Lagertown. My first pilsner was Pilsner Urquell when I was in Hungary, and it was the first beer I really disagreed with. Pilsners remind me of the smell while driving through rural Wisconsin, but they don't have much of the delicious bitterness you get from an IPA or the sweetness of a funky Belgian farmhouse ale.

But perhaps I haven't been properly introduced.

Cassady said...

Well, I feel I should actually amend my post since the last day or two.

I was fortunate enough to try Warsteiner on tap at my favorite local watering hole, and the experience was quite different from the bottled variety.

Tap beers are often sweeter than their bottled counterparts, and in this case the malty sweetness of the beer definitely came through stronger for me.

This was interesting because Pilsners are not generally known for being sweet. I happen to like most sweet beers, so I am confused with my own opinions.

Do I like the sweetness because it adds something to this particular pils, or is it an unnecessary and unwelcome addition to the style? It's out of character, yes, but the sweet touch isn't cloying at all, it's just a real malty character snuck in there.

Further research pending...

spencer said...

I've had Warsteiner from a mini-keg (a different experience entirely from draught or bottle) and found it, as you did, a bit sweet, but also bland.